2 Hopewell schools fully accredited
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Oct 11, 2013, 13:03
HOPEWELL — Dupont Elementary and Harry E. James are the only two schools in the Hopewell City school division that became fully accredited after the final calculation of the Standards of Learning assessments taken earlier this year. The remaining schools in the division have been placed under a warning until the tests are given later this school year.
The results, which were presented to the School Board at the meeting on Thursday, were from the SOL tests given during the 2012-2013 school year. When the state determines if a school meets accreditation requirements, the passing score or the three-year average must meet the state board-approved benchmark. The score, pass or fail, is calculated by dividing the number of students passing the test by the number of students taking the test.
Though Dupont Elementary was fully accredited this year, Christopher Reber, vice chairman of the School Board, showed some concern over the English score for third through fifth-graders, which was a 61 percent, with 333 students taking the test and only 203 passing the test. Though the score was below the state benchmark of 75 percent, the school’s three-year average of 75 percent, met the requirement.
“Science and reading were new tests this year, so there’s always instructional adjustments that have to made as you move from old standards to new standards and the new assessments,” Webb said addressing Reber’s concern.
Webb also noted that the writing scores fell in many schools across the division, though this was not uncommon throughout the state.
“As it did across the state, our writing scores took a dip,” Webb said. “Our writing scores dipped more than our reading scores which had an effect on our reading so having a focus on writing and how the assessment is given to children.”
Dr. Kim Evans, assistant superintendent for Instruction, said with the start of this school year, more writing exercises and practices are being added.
“We are requiring them [students] to do more writing and looking at the process across the board as well,” Evans said.
Harry E. James Elementary, the other school in the division that became accredited, met the benchmarks by also using the three-year average in English and math. The score in English for grades 3-5 was 65 percent, with the three-year average of 76 percent, and the benchmark at 75 percent. The current year score in math missed the benchmark of 70 percent by one point, but the three-year average met the benchmark of exactly 70 percent.
Patrick Copeland Elementary School missed the state accreditation by one point in mathematics. The current year passing score was 65 percent with the three-year average of 69 percent and the benchmark being 70 percent.
“That’s a devastating feeling because you know a few kids here or there could have made a difference,” said Dr. John Fahey, superintendent of Hopewell City Public Schools.
Carter G. Woodson Middle School missed the accreditation due the English and Math scores, missing the benchmarks by both the current and three-year averages, in both cases by a few points.
For English, the benchmark was 75 percent, with the current year score at 58 percent with the three-year average at 74 percent. In mathematics, the benchmark for Carter Woodson was 70 percent, with the current year score of 69 percent and the three-year average of 67 percent.
Like the other schools in the division, Hopewell High School also missed accreditation due to the scores in mathematics. The benchmark was 70 percent, with the current year score being 66 percent and the three-year average of 63 percent. The high school did however meet the state benchmark for graduation, with 87 percent and the benchmark being 85 percent.
Though only two of the schools in the division walked away with accreditation status, Fahey said there are measures that are being put in place to continue to raise some of the numbers up across the division.
“We have a real systemic approach to this in Hopewell which I’m very pleased about having fifth-graders use laptops,” Fahey said. “That’s a whole grade level that’s going to have a whole lot more familiarity with using a laptop in testing and using it for technology-enhanced items as well.”
School Board member Larry Joyner had faith in the schools in the division that the scores could be improved upon with the coming year’s test.
“I don’t see anything here that’s not doable,” Joyner said of the scores that were presented that evening. “We start scratching and clawing. We can get these things done.”